Good story! In a dominance hierarchy (like patriarchy) there are no peers. Everyone around you is either above or below you. Men are particularly indoctrinated into this (although women do it too), so if they feel that the woman they are interested in is above them in the dominance hierarchy, they’ve been trained to find that unacceptable. Of course, this is all subconscious, but I think the real project is to throw out the idea of constantly comparing ourselves to everyone around us and just accept that everyone has strengths and challenges and connect with someone whom you feel drawn to.